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The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher

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Winner of the Galaxy Book of the Year and Popular Non-Fiction awards 2009.

Reviewed on Richard & Judy's Book Club 2009 on Wednesday 28 January.

Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 4 December 2008.

Winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2008.

This reads like a first rate crime novel but is in fact an analysis of real life events. It's so good it won the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction in 2008. Said to have inspired Dickens, Willkie Collins and many, many more this is a case that will keep you gripped until the final page.

If you like Kate Summerscale you might also like to read books by Ellen Horan.


The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale

The Sunday Times bestseller and winner of the BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2008.

It is midnight on 30th June 1860 and all is quiet in the Kent family’s elegant house in Road, Wiltshire. The next morning, however, they wake to find that their youngest son has been the victim of an unimaginably gruesome murder. Even worse, the guilty party is surely one of their number – the house was bolted from the inside. As Jack Whicher, the most celebrated detective of his day, arrives at Road to track down the killer, the murder provokes national hysteria at the thought of what might be festering behind the closed doors of respectable middle-class homes – scheming servants, rebellious children, insanity, jealousy, loneliness and loathing.

This true story has all the hallmarks of a classic gripping murder mystery. A body, a detective, a country house steeped in secrets and a whole family of suspects – it is the original Victorian whodunnit.


'A pacy analysis of a true British murder case from 1860, the unravelling of which involved one of the earliest Scotland Yard detectives and inspired sensation novelists such as Dickens and Wilkie Collins by exposing the dark secrets of the Victorian middle-class home. Absolutely riveting'
Sarah Waters, Guardian

'Vastly entertaining …sly, delicate and probing' London Review of Books

‘Sparse, melancholy, beautifully written … the year’s most beguiling biography’ Independent

'A wonder of style, content and research' Time Out

About the Author

Kate Summerscale was born in 1965. She is the author of the bestselling The Queen of Whale Cay, which won a Somerset Maugham award and was shortlisted for the Whitbread biography award. She has also judged various literary competitions including the Booker Prize. She lives in London with her son.

The Suspicions of Mr Whicher or The Murder at Road Hill House, published by Bloomsbury in April 2008, has been awarded the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction 2008.

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Book Info

Publication date

5th January 2009


Kate Summerscale

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Bloomsbury Publishing Plc


400 pages


Biography / Autobiography
All Shortlists and Winners
eBook Favourites

True crime
Local history



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